??? about Waldorf/teacher trainingThis reply is for "rev mother" and for, of course, anyone else who wishes to read it!
I felt the need to address one point you made in your last post about Waldorf education. (To be honest, I would love to address several of the points you made, but I fear people here are tired of all this, so I will restrain myself. If there is anyone out there who would like to hear anything more of what I had to say, as someone who spent six years as a Waldorf mom, was on the school's Parent Association, volunteered extensively and is in close contact with many former Waldorf parents from all over the world, just write me offlist.)
Rev mother, you say you wonder why people who become Waldorf teachers go through all that college training, only to spend "2 or 3 more years" studying Waldorf methodology, and you speculate that maybe they just love children.
I am glad you brought that up, because once upon a time I, too, thought that Waldorf teachers actually had more training (or at least as much) as those who teach in public and other schools.
Unfortunately, that is just not true. I have in my possession that catalog, course list and book list from the two leading Waldorf teacher training "colleges" (and believe me, I use that term loosely) in the US. What did I learn this way (in addition to through talking to a number of Waldorf teachers?)
I learned that not only don't Waldorf teacher candidates have to have already earned an undergraduate degree in anything, but that once they are enrolled in the Waldorf teacher training program, most of their time is spent reading works by Rudolf Steiner. It's interesting to note that the courses the teacher trainees take have names that *sound* quite different from what is really learned. (Example: a course on Child Development covers, in fact, how young human beings grow according to R. Steiner. Required reading for such a course is several books BY Steiner. This means that Waldorf teacher trainees are NOT getting the benefit of the accumulated knowledge of many. many fine educators and thinkers who have studied and worked with children in classrooms over the years. No. Instead, they get ONLY what Rudolf Steiner "intuited" through clairvoyance about human development 80 YEARS ago, with no update.)
Also, those employed as teachers in Waldorf schools do not always even have their Waldorf teacher training "certificate" by the time they begin teaching. A number run back and forth to the training centers the first few years, taking "intensives" during the summer, so they can earn that "certificate" while teaching. (Note, too, that a Waldorf teaching "certificate" is useless in getting employment at a public or other non-Waldorf school. It has meaning ONLY in Waldorf circles.)
While our family was involved at our former school, I remember hearing each year about the school's struggle to find a teacher for the next year's first grade. It seemed that there were not enough candidates, and it was often tense: would they find someone in time? Who would it be? I remember talking with several of the teachers (with whom I was quite friendly) and asking "Why don't you guys just find some very experienced teachers from public or private schools, and then just TRAIN them to do things the Waldorf way?" An uncomfortable silence usually followed. I watched as, several times, they hired people who had NO experiences teaching but had a "commitment" to "Anthroposophy." (I recall one individual who had been a meditative monk or something similar who was hired. Within several months, his class was in chaos and parents were extremely unhappy; children were withdrawn from his class. He ended up leaving mid-year, causing a panicked scramble to fill the spot.)
Last evening I ran into a former Waldorf teacher in the parking lot of a local supermarket. We got to talking, and she related how much happier she is at her new teaching job in a public school where faculty members with various backgrounds -- but all with good, solid teacher training -- worked together to educate the kids. She said me that during her time at the Waldorf school, several other faculty members had told her that "You will never fit in because you are not a follower of Steiner." She has concluded that if you work at a Waldorf school, the most important thing is to toe the Steiner line and be a devoted follower. She chose not to do so. Her loyalty is to the children: not to a dead demigogue.
The result of all this is that I advise anyone considering Waldorf to ask the school to give you a list of the faculty and its credentials. Note where only Waldorf training was given (and remember what W. training entails), and whether or not the teacher had any kind of regular college degree. Remember that Waldorf schools are run by the teachers, and usually by an in group of teachers who are the most devoted to Steiner. (One former teacher told me that she found the faculty meetings "scary. It was like a cult.")
Note, too, that anthroposophically devoted teachers believe that destiny brought your child to her or him, and that he or she (the teacher) is the PRIMARY spiritual parent of your child in this life. You, on the other hand, are just the "door" the child came through into this life; in a Waldorf school, you are expected as the "door" to hand the child over to the teacher, who knows better than you do. (Hey, I am not making this up. I have spoken with Waldorf teachers and people who worked at schools, and they inevitably report that the faculty attitude toward parents -- especially parents who ask lots of questions and make demands or even suggestions -- is not favorable. These people told me that they were shocked to learn that some Waldorf teachers consider parents people to be got around so that the teacher can get to his or her "mission:" to guide the child in this life as Steiner said he or she should be guided.)
For those who believe in the tenets of anthroposophy, Waldorf schools are surely wonderful. For those of us who wanted an arts based, non sectarian school, well, maybe not so wonderful!
Regards to all,
P.S.: Rev asks what is wrong with copying. Nothing is wrong with a limited amount of copying. But we are not talking limited copying here; we are talking about copying *all* drawings done during classtime as part of the children's often-shown-off "mainlesson books" for at least three and a half years, and about painting (for the same length of time, if not more) in one style (Waldorf wet on wet) according to teachers' explicit instructions. (Yes, in kindergarten the children are given selected colors of block crayons -- teachers do not want them to draw with lines, as there is an anthro prohibition against them -- to scribble and to draw with. Once in grade one, though, that stops.)
A friend of mine in another state is a professional artist, and was delighted to discover Waldorf and its supposed "arts based" instruction for her child. She and her husband moved several states over so their girl could go to a W. school. Once there, the woman was shocked to be told by a teacher that there "is no art at a Waldorf school."
Next time anyone is near a Waldorf school , go in and ask to look around at the art displayed. Note how it all looks alike: amorphous watercolors and weirdly swirling crayon lines, one after the other, grade after grade. Then go to any other school and look at what they have up. Everything is different! In terms of art, Waldorf is a one trick pony.